John Bomber: For the Fun of It

John Bomber sat down with Mick and regaled him with stories of punk rock past and present as he goes into detail about The Anthrax, Dumpster Dive, and his current band, Sonic Supercharger 66.

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MT: How did you get involved in the punk scene?

JB: In the seventies, I got into all the bands that were popular like Black Sabbath, Van Halen, Ted Nugent, Led Zeppelin, of course,The Beatles, and The Grateful Dead. Towards the end of high school, I started becoming aware of different kinds of music. I used to get Cream magazine. They would have all of the heavy metal bands, but they would slip in pictures of popular punk rock bands, like the Sex Pistols and The Clash. I would always kind of gravitate toward that because it was an interesting new thing. I ended up becoming friends with these two brothers that had this idea to start this art gallery and have punk shows in the basement of this art gallery, they called it The Anthrax. They rented this storefront in this old part of Stamford and I was kind of their right-hand man in terms of helping them out and building the place up. For a year or so, they put on some really great shows and got some unbelievable bands.    

MT: How did you get your start playing music?

JB: I got into playing because I was friends with all these people in bands. Finally, I said, “I gotta start a band.” I had fooled around with playing acoustic guitar and I would take some lessons, but I wasn't great. I still don't think I'm great, actually. But, I decided to start a band and started getting people together. The first person I found was named Jeff Coleman, and I actually still play with Jeff, he's the drummer in Sonic Supercharger 66. So, we've been playing together for well over 30 years together. Then we found some other people. We had a bass player named Brian and a guy Nick Lewis was singing, but Nick didn't last long. There were a couple of other guys at The Anthrax and I became friendly with them. One of them was named Carl, and he knew a ton about punk rock. He was friends with a guy named John and he was really into hardcore. And we all decided to start a band together and we called ourselves Seizure and that was the beginning of my band for most of the old Anthrax days.

MT: Can you talk a little about your fanzine, Dumpster Dive?

JB: Me and my friend Jack started the zine as a way to promote our own bands at first. Then we started doing interviews with all of the bands that were playing The Anthrax. Our zine grew and we started doing reviews, too. We would send the zine out to record labels and we would get promo stuff. After a certain point, we were getting deluged with promo stuff. Even major labels would send us promo stuff. Then we started parlaying that into getting onto the guest lists for shows. And that gave us the key into the entire underground music world. We were getting on the guest list and getting into shows for free and meeting with bands for interviews. Diana, my wife, would take pictures for us and help us out with the zine. We were working day jobs, so we would use the mail room to make the zine and make hundreds of copies to give away and sell. We ended up having to get a post office box to get all the crap we got sent from all the labels all over the place. We had correspondents all over the world, but it still felt like a small thing. 

MT: Were there any musicians you met through the zine that made a big impression on you?

JB: We interviewed all of our heroes. The stand-outs off the top of my head had to be Johnny Ramone. The record labels were weird. They didn't want us to interview Joey and I guess they were worried he would say something controversial or something. Lemmy from Motorhead was a big one too. Diana was there too. It gets me choked up. The thing about Lemmy was if you meet the guy, he was a sweetheart. And he did an interview with us and even after the interview he opened up and talked about his personal feelings.

MT: How did your current band, Sonic Supercharger 66 come together?

JB: I had seen this one band called Elvis McMahon and our guitar player James was in that band. I liked them a lot, but I didn't think James was pulling it off as a solo guitar player and they needed to beef up their sound with a second guitar player. So I had this idea that me and him playing guitar together would be a pretty good thing. When they broke up and James started a new band, I asked if I could play with them. That band didn't last too long either, so I approached James and I asked if he wanted to start our own band. So we got a place in Stamford to practice and they had all kinds of equipment for us to us. It was this guy Brian and this guy Mike. Mike played guitar and decided, since we already had two guitars, that he would try playing bass. I gotta give him credit for taking that step because I don't know if I would be able to do that. We knew we needed a singer if we were gonna cut it as a band, so one of our friends hooked us up with Big Jim. So we asked him and he jumped at the chance to sing with us. Brian eventually fell on hard times and had to leave the band. So I said “lemme give my old friend Jeff a call” and Jeff came on board. So we've been playing for a while and we've got a CD out. Every month or so we play a local show. We get to play with some other really great bands around here, too, a lot of bands that I've seen for years and really respect. 

MT: Do you have any words of advice for aspiring artists?

JB: Just play music and do art and whatever makes you feel good. Keep that as what drives you. Always have fun. Fun is the big word. All these local bands I've been talking about, back in the day we put out an album and called it Connecticut Fun. I actually wrote a song called Connecticut Fun. I think I get it from my dad, the idea of doing something for the fun of it. Money isn't always a factor. If you want to be a musician or an artist, you might want to forget about the money thing and just let it happen. I think it makes people not as genuine if they're just shooting for the money.